Report: Fatal U.S. Chemical Plant Explosion Caused By Faulty Equipment
Vacuum truck caused accident at PeroxyChem’s Pasadena plant
A recently released report from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s office blames a faulty piece of equipment for the explosion that killed one and injured three at a Pasadena chemical plant owned by PeroxyChem as company officials said Tuesday they could not provide updates about the accident.
The fire marshal’s incident report stated that a piece of equipment blew off a vacuum truck during the Jan. 16 accident at the Pasadena plant of the Philadelphia-based company.
PeroxyChem officials said at a La Porte citizens advisory committee meeting Tuesday evening that an “active investigation” was ongoing and that they could not take any questions about the incident or the investigation.
Pasadena fire officials said in the incident report that the piece of equipment – originally attached to the vacuum truck – “suffered some sort of failure and blew off.”
The report does not detail what the equipment was or how it blew off the truck.
The explosion killed 63-year-old Rickey Giddens, who worked at several plants in the area as a contractor for Evergreen Industrial Services. He was known to operate vacuum trucks, his family said. The vacuum truck was owned by Evergreen, according to the fire marshal’s report.
The report also states that 1,000 gallons of a chemical called “Process Work Solution” spilled because of the explosion, though it does not elaborate on what chemicals make up the solution.
PeroxyChem’s Pasadena plant manufactures hydrogen peroxide, a common household item used as an antiseptic. At high concentrations, it can cause serious burns and explode if heated.
A Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokeswoman had previously said the state agency is investigating the spill of a peroxide-and-oil mixture in connection with the incident.
The explosion was at least the 10th such incident in the greater Houston region since a toxic leak at the DuPont plant in La Porte in November 2014 killed four workers.
Since then, at least two people have been killed and 18 injured amid explosions, fires and chemical leaks.
PeroxyChem employs about 600 people worldwide, with facilities in North and South America, Asia, and Europe, according to its 2014 annual report.
The fire marshal’s report states that emergency responders decontaminated the three who were injured before they were taken to the hospital, though it does not specify how they were contaminated. Giddens’ body was also decontaminated.
Fire officials found no “active leaks” during the initial investigation, according to the incident report.